A Chicago man who lost his left leg in a hit-and-run collision is asking for help in tracking down the driver of the Mercedes Benz that hit him.
"I just want him to come forward and do the right thing," said Michael Bielinski, 31, now a patient at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. "It's not every day that you hit a person," he said. "Just come in, say you were scared and apologize."
Bielinski's situation is made more difficult by the fact that as a pizza delivery driver he has no medical insurance. "Everyone should have insurance," he said. "That could make a big difference."
Bielinski's father is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver.
Family members believe someone saw the collision or has seen the damaged Mercedes and can identify the driver.
Illinois State Police officers recovered parts of the front end and a side-view mirror, and were able to determine that it was a black Mercedes.
Bielinski was driving home from a friend's birthday party with his girlfriend at about 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 5 when his SUV started shaking. He pulled over to the shoulder of the Ontario feeder ramp of the Kennedy Expressway to check the tires, police said.
Moments after he stepped out of his vehicle, he was hit by another car and thrown into the road, Bielinski said. His girlfriend dragged him back to the shoulder.
Two Illinois state troopers, Dennis Kranz and Zachary Petters, applied a tourniquet to Bielinski's injured leg, saving his life, state police said.
He suffered damage to a major artery in his left leg, requiring its amputation. Also, he had a lacerated spleen, a bruised kidney, a fractured vertebrae and multiple injuries to his left arm. He went through several surgeries at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in the days after the crash.
Bielinski's employer, Villa Rosa Pizza on Devon Avenue, plans to host a fundraiser from 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 27. A medical expense fund has been set up under his name at Associated Bank in Edgebrook.
Anyone with information may contact the Illinois State Police at 847-294-4400. The family is setting up a tip hotline at 847-274-8331, but it won't be working until Thursday.
"I just want closure and to get on with my life," Bielinski said. "My attitude is life goes on. I'm just glad I'm alive."--Deanese Williams-Harris, Chicago Tribune